Still a case of jobs for the boys and jobs for the girls

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The Independent Online

Stereotypical jobs for men and women are still the rule, nearly 40 years after the Equal Pay Act and after countless initiatives by business and government, research by The Independent shows.

This newspaper's survey of professional and trade bodies reveals that traditionally male enclaves such as engineering and driving a train are possibly even more dominated by men than the popular image, with the Institute of Mechanical Engineers reporting a landslide male membership of 96.6 per cent, just shading the train drivers' 96.3 per cent – though neither occupation requires the sort of sheer physical strength that might explain such a high bias.

The armed forces are similarly dominated by men; the best of the services, the RAF, manages just a 15 per cent female officer ranking.

At the other end of the scale, the "caring" jobs such as nursing and teaching at nursery schools are, as the caricature goes, very much a female domain. Women outnumber men in nursery schools by around 33 to 1, and on the wards they dominate in a ratio of 9 to 1.

Still, women have already achieved rough parity – by comparison with the overall workforce – with men in many of the well-paid mainstream professions.

The job which has shown the most remarkable recent feminisation is in veterinary medicine. While the proportion of men vets to women vets is average, the proportion of female trainee vets in recent years has approached 80 per cent.

Women seem well represented in finance, though this may be down to a large clerical element rather than finding significant numbers at the best-rewarded end of investment banking and at the top of the big banking groups.

In terms of the glass ceiling, women are putting fresh cracks into the roof every year – but in some parts of the world of work the ceiling is more concrete than glass.